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Susan R. Garrett is Seminary’s Dean-elect

Oct 27, 2011
On October 21, 2011, Dr. Susan R. Garrett was elected by the Board of Trustees to be the next Dean of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, beginning June 1, 2012. She will succeed David C. Hester, who will be honored in the spring for his seven years of service and leadership as Seminary Dean.

"I am profoundly grateful that Dr. Garrett has discerned a call to serve as Academic Dean of our Seminary. The Dean is the principal advocate and supporter of the school's core educational mission, the hinge position upon which the most vital aspects of the school turn. I am confident that Sue Garrett has the gifts, abilities, and character to be a superb Dean,” stated Seminary President Michael Jinkins, who recommended Dr. Garrett’s appointment with strong faculty nomination and support.

Dr. Garrett is currently in her seventeenth year as Professor of New Testament at Louisville Seminary. She previously taught for seven years at Yale Divinity School, where she was the Lillian Claus Associate Professor of New Testament, and for one year at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

“Teaching at Louisville Seminary has been a privilege and a source of deep joy for me, and I am both honored and humbled as I anticipate serving in the position of Dean,” Garrett said. “I am especially grateful for the support of my faculty colleagues, and I look forward to working with them, with President Jinkins, and with the rest of the administration and staff as we all strive together to educate men and women for many kinds of ministry.”

“Professor Garrett has long been admired and respected for her teaching and scholarship, and we are confident that she will provide important leadership at a significant time in the life of Louisville Seminary,” stated Pamela G. Kidd, Chair of the Board of Trustees, which enthusiastically affirmed Jinkins’ recommendation of Garrett as the next dean.

Garrett will begin her position at an historic period for Louisville Seminary, which will soon announce a new strategic plan.

“This is an especially promising time in the life of the Seminary. Our faculty and student body are the strongest they have been in my seventeen years here. I am energized by the direction Louisville Seminary is heading and anticipate that our contribution to theological education for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the wider church will be substantial in the coming years,” said Garrett, who served as Vice Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee over the past year.

Veteran faculty member the Rev. Dr. Dianne Reistroffer describes Garrett as a “brilliant teacher, a respected senior scholar, and a first-rate administrator.”

“I cannot think of anyone who is more qualified to serve as our next Dean than Sue,” said Reistroffer, Professor of Ministry, Director of Field Education and Methodist Studies, and the first woman to serve as Dean of the Seminary from 1998 to 2005. “Sue brings to the position a deep love of the church, an unswerving commitment to excellence in theological education, and a collaborative leadership style that is inviting and inspirational.”

Rev. Dr. Lewis Brogdon, one of the newest members of the faculty and director of the Black Church Studies (BCS) program concurred, saying Garrett “has been an integral part of the evolution of the BCS program, and I believe her leadership will be critical going forward. I look forward to working with her as the program continues to develop.”

Dr. Garrett earned her degrees at Duke University (B.A.); Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.); and Yale University (M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.). She studied as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Tübingen in West Germany, and has been the recipient of a Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology. Her scholarly interests include the social and cultural worlds of the first Christians, and early Christian understandings of suffering and evil. She is the author or co-author of five books and numerous articles, and her most recent book, No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus (Yale University Press, 2008), was the winner of the gold medal in the religion category for the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Award.

In all her writing and her teaching, Garrett strives to demonstrate how careful study of the New Testament can enrich the life of discipleship and the church’s worship and to help others learn to hear and understand points of view with which they disagree.

“I still hope to see her in the classroom as time permits,” said Seminary alum Bill Holmes (MDiv ’10), who said Garrett’s teaching has inspired him as a preacher and teacher.

“As with our past deans, Dr. Garrett brings unwavering integrity, amazing scholarship, and genuine concern for students to the office of Dean,” added Rev. Becky Schwandt, a pastor in Aurora, Mo., who earned two degrees at Louisville Seminary (MDiv ’08; ThM ’11). “I have no doubt that she will continue to ensure that LPTS is known for preparing outstanding parish pastors, moving preachers, successful therapists, and well trained educators,” she said.

First-year Master of Divinity student Madison Munoz said she was grateful to have Garrett as her teacher in the intensive seminary preparation course, Transforming Seminary Education (TSE), this past summer.

“The learning environment that Sue Garrett fostered – one that allowed us to "clash” and to engage with respect and honesty – was truly awesome and stimulating for all. She emphasized generous listening and inspired those in my TSE class to engage one another, regarding difficult topics, with mutual respect and honesty. As Dean, I know she will continue to engender a healthy academic environment, inspiring the student body and the faculty with her confidence and leadership. And, speaking for female students, especially, we are blessed to have such a wonderful role model,” said Munoz.

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